Religions have their own moral code and teachings regarding family creation. The emerging use and evolving regulation of egg donation and assisted reproductive technologies have brought into focus the views of different religions and religious organizations. While most religions have historical and relatively outdated teachings on reproduction itself, recent years have seen emerging voices from organized religion on egg donation and assisted reproductive technologies.
Some faith leaders cite beliefs about the purpose of sex - primarily that it is meant to be procreative and unitive, and that fertility options therefore go against or blur the lines of religious morality. Although individual members may accept and support using donated eggs, many faiths do try to limit, if not ban, the practice altogether. In this guide, we’ll go over a few examples on what religions say about egg donation.
Buddhism does not have specific teachings on the use of egg donation and ART. Dr. Schenker shares that Buddhist discourse largely accepts egg donation as long as the child has the right to know their genetic parent(s).
One religion that has clear guidelines on the use of egg donation and assisted reproductive technologies (IVF) is Catholicism. The Roman Catholic Church holds that life begins at conception, that children must be conceived during sex, and that any conception outside a physical union is condemnable. Therefore, the Church prohibits any form of artificial reproduction that separates procreation from the conjugal act between a married heterosexual couple. This includes the use of egg donation, because it involves the separation of the procreative and unitive aspects of the conjugal act.
Hinduism does not have specific teachings on the use of egg donation and art. However, according to Dr. Schenker, an expert on religious faith and professor at Hadassah University and Medical Center, Hinduism accepts egg donation as long as the child has the right to know their genetic parents.
Jewish law and tradition strongly encourages “be fruitful and multiply” and most jewish people embrace egg donation as a way of achieving this. Most rabbinic authorities hold that egg donation and surrogacy are allowed under jewish law. However, the rabbinical world is divided on whether an intended parent should find a donor who is jewish. The conservative and orthodox movements suggest that the egg donor must be fully jewish, while the reform movement suggests that as long as the intended parent is jewish, the child is considered jewish as well. In 1996, the committee on jewish law and standards of the rabbinical assembly declared that a child born to a jewish woman is jewish, regardless of the religious status of the ovum donor. Read more in I'm Jewish. How Should I Be Thinking About A Jewish Egg Donor?
Protestant Christianity generally views the use of egg donation and ART as problematic. Unlike the Catholic Church, however, Protestant denominations do not have a centralized authority that can issue official statements on these issues. Nevertheless, the Church of England, one of the dominant voices in Protestant policy, expressed its disapproval at the prospect of offering fertility treatments to single women and gay couples at the time of the passing of the 2012 Human Fertility and Embryology Act in England. The subsequent law however gave access to single women and gay couples to egg donation fertility treatments.
Given the shia branch of islam is largely seen in iran, the rulings of the ayatollahs in iran have supreme jurisprudence in the Shiite Islamic world. The Iranian law on gamete donation, passed in 2003 and approved by the guardian council, allows for egg donation provided the husband marries the egg donor temporarily. However, sperm donation is forbidden as a sperm donor cannot temporarily marry an already married woman whose husband is infertile. Interestingly, embryo donation, from another married couple, is allowed.
Sunni Muslims follow the Fatwas issued by religious bodies such as Al-Azhar University in Cairo and the Islamic Fikh Council in Mecca on matters related to everyday life. These Fatwas and guidelines allow for assisted reproduction as long as the sperm and oocyte are those of the married couple, and the embryo is replaced into the wife’s uterus during an existing marriage. Simply, this means that third party egg donation is not allowed.
Faith and egg donation
Different religions have different views on the use of egg donation and assisted reproductive technologies like IVF. While some religions view these technologies as problematic, others may view them as acceptable in certain circumstances. Generally, with the exception of Catholicism, the lack of a central decision making authority in other major global religions means that gray areas exist in the context of religious views on egg donation.
What if my religion does not approve of using donor eggs?
If your religion does not allow the use of donor eggs or even IVF, it is important to consider your own beliefs and values when deciding whether to pursue these options. It may be helpful to speak with a religious leader or authority within your faith tradition to learn more about the teachings and beliefs of your religion, and to explore how these teachings may apply to your situation. You may also want to consider seeking guidance from a mental health professional, who can help you navigate your thoughts and feelings about the use of donor eggs.
Ultimately, the decision to use donor eggs is a deeply personal one that should be made based on your own values, beliefs, and circumstances. It is important to consider all of the potential risks and benefits of these options, and to weigh them carefully before making a decision.
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Trisha Mariwala is the Co-Founder of India-based Setu, a plant-based personalized nutrition brand focused on changing the supplement industry with high quality clinical products and round-the-clock coaching and habit building support. While at Setu, Mariwala has led marketing, branding and new product development functions. After attending Columbia Business School and interning with Cofertility, supporting various functions, Mariwala currently works with Danone Manifesto Ventures, supporting their mission of building the future of food.
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